W42ST Issue 54 - The Pride Issue

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ISSUE 54 JUNE 2019


ON BROADWAY SUPPORTS PRIDE Today and ever y day we applaud the LGBTQ IA+ memb ers of our cast, crew, staf f and audience. #ThisIsBroadwayPride




Minskoff Theatre, Broadway & 45th Street


St. James Theatre, 44th Street & 8th Avenue


New Amsterdam Theatre, Broadway & 42nd Street




Photos: Rob Tannenbaum; Reist Photography; Jane Kratochvil

Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum this summer to discover history and science through our exhibits and innovative programs. Be sure to visit the Museum’s Space Shuttle Pavilion for our new installation—Apollo 11: Media, the Moon and Beyond.

#IntrepidFreeFridays in partnership with


June 21, 5:00pm–9:00pm Explore the Museum and enjoy a variety of free after-hours programming including a viewing of the documentary Apollo 11 on the flight deck, educator-led talks and more! Visit us online for age ranges and registration requirements. Mark your calendars for these additional Free Friday dates: July 19, August 16, September 27 & October 25.


AGES 21+



June 8 & 9; 22 & 23; 29 & 30, Noon Join us for enrichment programs designed to provide children, their siblings and parents/caregivers an opportunity to have fun and learn together. Ages 5–12. Free with Museum admission. Register in advance.

June 8, 8:00pm Grab your dancing shoes and join us on Intrepid ’s flight deck for a night of live music, swing dancing and an epic battle to decide the night’s best big band. Ages 21+. Purchase tickets

ACCESS PROGRAMS Families with children or adults with learning and developmental disabilities enjoy specialized tours and hands-on activities. Free. Advance registration required. Early Morning Opening (Ages 3–18) June 8, 9:00am–11:00am Sensory Friendly Evening (Ages 14+) June 12, 5:00pm–7:00pm Access Family Program (Ages 5–17) June 16, 11:00am–1:00pm

online. Tickets starting at $39 (General Admission)/$85 (VIP). Beer and wine available for purchase.

INNOVATORS June 14, 7:30pm Author Douglas Brinkley will discuss the extraordinary political, cultural and scientific factors that shot the United States to victory in the Space Race at the height of the Cold War. Beer and wine available for purchase with valid ID. Free. 21+. Register in advance.

Learn more about these programs and more at INTREPIDMUSEUM.ORG.

PIER 86, WEST 46TH ST & 12TH AVE intrepidmuseum.org

2019 © Intrepid Museum Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under applicable law, this work may not be copied, published, disseminated, displayed, performed or played without permission of the copyright holder.





Summer in Times Square Beginning on June 11


Broadway Pedestrian Plazas between 42 nd & 47 th Streets

BROADWAY BUSKERS TUESDAYS, 5–7PM Broadway actors and composers perform their own original music

COLORING & DRAWING WEDNESDAYS, 12–3PM Relax with creative activities for both kids and adults

JAZZ IN TIMES SQUARE THURSDAYS, 5–7PM Jazz at Lincoln Center brings NYC’s hottest young jazz bands to the plaza. It’s fun. It’s free. It’s literally only a few blocks away.

June 21, 2019 Registration opens May 31 at TSQ.org/Solstice Relax in the busiest part of the city with FREE outdoor yoga classes on Times Square’s pedestrian plazas. Presented by






**By joining you agree to receive up to 5 promotional messages per month. Message & data rates may apply. Terms: slkt.io/CAZ


Botox Promo

$159/ 20 Units Retail Value | $240

$12/Unit After Initial 20 Units New Clients Only. Expires May 31st. Must Present Coupon To Redeem.



This month, about a bazillion people will descend on NYC for World Pride, marking 50 years since the Stonewall riots effectively launched the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. So we have a LOT to celebrate. We kick off at Flaming Saddles – a gay country western bar owned by a straight couple, where cowboys dance on the bartop. We ask what it takes to be a true ally, explore the story of the community told through Broadway, and more!

CONTENTS June Edition


Happy Pride!

Ruth Walker Editor, W42ST Sign up to my weekly newsletter at w42st.com THE TEAM THAT BROUGHT YOU W42ST

PUBLISHER PHIL O’BRIEN phil@w42st.com (646) 535-4407




ruth@w42st.com (646) 847-9645





drew@w42st.com (646) 896-9562





All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher ©2019. Please note: Every effort has been made to avoid errors, misspellings, and omissions in this publication. However, if you spot one please accept our sincere apologies.


becoming a better human and understanding diversity.


The story behind the gay country western bar that people said would never work.


What it means, and why we should care.


Our pick of the big events you MUST see this month – including the biggest Pride parties in town.








Sober night clubs? Kristen Jongen is kind of conflicted.

Were you at our launch event for Free Fridays aboard the Intrepid?

A few helpful hints and tips to

Three guys and some awkward conversations.

HIV, AIDS, and why more people should be (but aren’t) on PrEP.

Hashtag your Instagram photographs #W42ST to get involved.

Cyndi Lauper puts her money where her mouth is.


Their commitment keeps W42ST free for everyone else to enjoy. Please support them with your love and your business 34th St Partnership

Coney Island Brewing

Frank M Burke

Hell’s Kitchen Barbers

New Victory Theater


Acupuncture by Kristin Misik


Fresh From Hell

Hibernia Bar

New York Botanical Garden

Serino Coyne

Times Square Alliance

AKC Canine Retreat

David A. Palmieri

Gotham Mini Storage

Intrepid Museum

North River Lobster


The Marshal

Baire Hair Removal

Ensemble Studio Theatre

Grand Central Partnership

Jadite Picture Framing


The Artist Co-op

Title Boxing


Exit Realty

Hafetz & Associates

Manhattan Kayak + SUP


The Press Lounge

Vitality Medaesthetics

Body Factory Skin

Fine & Dandy

Heart of Chelsea

Mark Fisher Fitness


The Shops at Columbus

Wells Fargo


Fountain House Gallery

Hell’s Creative

MCC Theater

P.S. Kitchen




FEARLESSNESS SPOTTED AT 52ND & 10TH. new musical / SEP 18 thru OCT 27

THE WRONG MAN book, music and lyrics by


music supervision, vocal arrangements and

ALEX LACAMOIRE choreography by TRAVIS WALL directed by THOMAS KAIL

orchestrations by

new play / FEB 6 thru MAR 15



directed by

new play / OCT 3 thru NOV 10

OUR 2019/20 SEASON new play / MAR 19 thru APR 26



directed by



THERESA REBECK directed by


new play / JUN 4 thru JUL 12




directed by

LEARN MORE about next season and our new home in Hell’s Kitchen. T IX AT MCCTHEATER .ORG / (646) 506 - 9393 photo MICHAEL MORAN / OTTO




The LGBTQ+ plays and musicals that have made Broadway history – and helped give a voice to the community.



It began with a single meal and a single client – now God’s Love We Deliver is spearheading nutritional science.


An actor from The Cher Show and vegan runner on their go-to places to eat, drink, and play in the neighborhood.



What would happen if we REALLY connected with each other? A hotel decides to find out.





From West Chelsea to Hell’s Kitchen – a true New York story.


Bring a rainbow into your home.

COVER ARTIST Olgun Kaşıkçı is a designer and multidisciplinary artist illustrator based in Istanbul. IG: @olgunkasikci



Inside the women-only gym that is all about weights – and a lot of love.


Mary Geneva has a new dating rule – and so far, she’s sticking to it.

63 WHAT DREW TAUGHT ME Confessions of a girl who – more than anything – wanted to be Drew Barrymore.



Two pages of Hell’s Kitchen’s most handsome pets. Get involved by emailing waggingtales@w42st.com.



This page: Jacqui and her boys are buffing up their boots in time for Pride.



How the west


It’s a Hell’s Kitchen institution, but for Jacqui Squatriglia, the pride of Flaming Saddles never gets old Interview Ruth Walker Photograph Phil O’Brien Owning a gay country western bar was my dream for 20 years.

Then I met Chris, my partner and, as our relationship got more serious, he said: “Do you want to get married and have kids? Or do you want to have fun?” I chose fun, and he said: “Well, what do you want to do?” I said: “Open up a gay country western bar and see the boys do my dances.” He said: “OK, if we call it Flaming Saddles, I’m in.”

I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like

I knew I wanted the flock wallpaper, I knew what I wanted the bar top to look like. I even knew what I wanted the boys to wear. Chris location scouted and found the spot on 9th Ave - 52nd/53rd St. Once we got the lease, we were open in 30 days. That was seven and a half years ago.

I was shocked

People kept saying: “Oh great! Another gay bar in the neighborhood!” I couldn’t believe the pushback we got.

Other people said: “The boys will have to have their shirts off!” They said: “You’ll have to have a DJ, you can’t do a jukebox. And they certainly can’t wear cowboy boots.” There was a list of people telling me: “Listen, I’m happy for you, but it’s not going to work.” I said: “Well, I AM putting a jukebox in, they’re going to wear jeans and cowboy boots, they’re going to keep their shirts on, and they’re going to dance.”

I love the audition process!

I still do most of the hiring. And I have to like the boys first. People think they have to dance for me, but I always say that if I like you, I’ll teach you to dance. If you’re a dancer, I’ll teach you to bartend. They’re tall, small, they’re all different. But, basically, I have to have a feeling for them.

We’re a gay bar first, but we’re open to anybody

Everybody gets treated with the same service. Sometimes bachelorette parties get a little crazy. That’s why I have the “Straight girls no woo-hooing” sign above the bar. When we first opened, I think girls thought it was a strip club or something. They would come in groups of 20 or 30, screaming and yelling and getting up on the bar and pulling at the boys. I was like: “Enough!” So now they just point to the sign. If you’re gonna woo-hoo, you can go.

Everybody’s got someone gay in their family That’s the beauty of this bar. From the very beginning, people would say: “Oh my God! I can bring my Aunt Tilly in here!” Or: “Chris, can you talk to my father? He’s parked his Harley outside.” Mothers come in and say to me: “Jacqui, thank you. My son doesn’t tell me where he goes but I know he’s here and he’s safe because you’re here.” And they’re crying and I’m like: “Will you buy her some tequila please?!” I still get goosebumps about it.


I’d love to write a book about the things people have told me

I remember all the coming out stories. This one kid, Dylan, was run out of town. His grandmother said: “Get in the car and go!” He was 18 or 21. He was sitting in the bar one night and told me his story - he’s been a regular since.

When I’m not at Flaming Saddles

I like to go to steak houses, not only for the food but because they have the best wine. I’m a regular at Porter House – it has a fantastic view and first-class service. Tim Brown is the best maitre d’ ever. I love The Palm. A caricature of Chris and I is on the wall. Ask any of the boys – we sit in my regular booth and see how much atomic horseradish we can stand without crying! Kilo, is another favorite. LJ understands my palate and always pours me a glass of something delightful. Georgio’s serves anything you could possibly be craving … and more Kahve, thanks to Erol Zeren, is across the street from FS and my go-to for an extra hot oat latte ... or 2 or 3, depending on how the day is going. And I’ve been going to Nine Nails for my manicures since I moved to Hells Kitchen – ask for Grace.

BIO A dancer from the age of two, Jacqui Squatriglia was the choreographer for the phenomenally successful Coyote Ugly bars … but always dreamed of seeing boys do her dances on the bar top. That dream became reality when she and her partner Chris Barnes opened Flaming Saddles. They now have a brother bar in West Hollywood. Jacqui and Chris still work together, play together … and have two therapists on speed dial. A reality TV show may or may not be in the works. flamingsaddles. com JACQUI’S HK Porter House, Columbus Circle Kilo, 9th Ave 55th/56th St The Palm, W50th St - 7th/8th Ave Georgio’s, 9th Ave - 53rd St Kahve, 9th Ave 52nd/53rd St Nine Nails, 9th Ave - 54th/55th St

So do I regret choosing fun over marriage and kids? No regrets. It was the best decision I’ve made.


Your will can break any barrier. You have the power to redefine what’s possible and your journey has inspired others. We call that being empowerful. 50 years ago, Stonewall began a movement to push the world forward, and your courage continues to pave a path. As you relentlessly strive for equal access and the opportunity to flourish financially, Wells Fargo walks right beside you helping to make it happen. You’ve come this far. We can help you go further. Learn how at:

wellsfargo.com/lgbt © 2019 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. IHA-24638


What’s On A Strange Loop

A tongue-twister of a show title coming to MCC Theater, a contemporary reimagining of Chekhov’s Three Sisters that feels more relevant than, like, ever before. Opens June 27, with Need a Damn Drink Friday on the 28th – each audience member receives a drink voucher in their Playbill for an after-show party. mcctheater.org



Alvin Ailey at Lincoln Center

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Pride Island

The biggest, baddest party of them all comes to Pier 97 on June 29 and 30, with headliners Grace Jones and Teyana Taylor. Don’t bother trying to get tickets – it’s already sold out. 2019-worldpride-stonewall50.nycpride.org

Five programs over five nights, featuring some of today’s most dazzling dancers, starting June 12. The series includes new work and some of Ailey’s most enduring pieces. alvinailey.org

Rock of Ages

American Moonshot


On June 14, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, the Intrepid Museum recreates one of the most ambitious achievements in the history of humankind. The following week (June 21), there’s the third in our Free Fridays season – get free entry to the museum from 5pm-9pm and enjoy a movie screening on the flight deck. intrepidmuseum.org

June 2019 Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow

Michael R Jackson’s play about a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates, while writing his original musical (about a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates). It continues throughout June. playwrightshorizons.org The annual season of concerts across the city – many of them free – opens on June 1 with a Central Park performance from Grammy-nominated R&B artist Emily King, joining Durand Jones and the Indications. Look out for dates from Japanese Breakfast, George Clinton, Parquet Courts, Big Freedia, the B-52s, among others. cityparksfoundation.org


The multi Tony-nominated Broadway hit returns on June 19, to New World Stages, to celebrate its 10th anniversary. There’s a small town girl, a city boy .... rockofagesmusical.com Every ticket to the June 19 show includes a copy of the Life For Rent singer/songwriter’s latest CD, Still on my Mind. terminal5nyc.com

Just One Look

Travis Moser performs the songs of Linda Rondstadt – along with some special guests – at the Green Room 42 on June 20. onfournyc.com


54 Celebrates Amy Winehouse

The music of the six-time Grammywinning singer/songwriter – and the stars she influenced – is performed by Broadway singers and rising stars. A portion of the proceeds from this Jun 23 show will be donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. 54below.com

Midsummer Night Swing

Get ready to dance, as swing, salsa, and big band sounds fill Damrosch Park from June 25 (with a special vogueing night on June 27). The evening begins with a group dance lesson, followed by two sets, then – on some nights) a silent disco until late. lincolncenter.org

Previews begin on June 28 for the stage adaptation of Baz Luhrman’s opulent 2001 musical. Aaron Tveit, Karen Olivo, and Danny Burstein star in the show that is taking over the old Kinky Boots stage at Al Hirschfeld Theatre. moulinrougemusical.com


Moms, best friends, and funny ladies Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley bring their viral web series to The Town Hall on June 30, to discuss the good, the bad, and the funny about motherhood – with the help of a bottle of red wine! thetownhall.org

World Pride closing ceremony

Hello, Times Square! Speakers and musicians celebrate the diversity, tenacity, and grace of the LGBTQIA+ community from 7pm. Melissa Etheridge is already slated to perform at this free event (registration is required), as is Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters. 2019-worldpride-stonewall50. nycpride.org






Sobriety trending


Is Kristen Jongen ahead of the curve? Sober bars are making headlines … but she’s conflicted


old up! Did you guys see the recent article in the NY Post claiming: ”NYC’s sober bar scene is a ‘hip’ oasis for booze-free fun.” Did you? I have been writing Sober in the City for nearly two years. Are we finally trending? Before I get too excited, I need to be precise. I am not ascribing to Mollyinfused raves in lieu of sloppy bar brawls. I am referencing legitimately lucid entertainment. You know, venues created for drink and drug-free humans to speak to other drink and drug-free humans ... on purpose. New Yorkers at large have the best recovery-related options in America but, strangely, there is still a lot of static around the subject of abstinence. I have approached several venues in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea about hosting of a Sober in the City event and been met with concern that it wouldn’t make enough money for it to be worthwhile. Do establishments legitimately not know that nondrinkers who have spent years being treated

like the awkward stepchildren of the social elite, would eagerly spend $13 on a Thai coconut elixir infused with vitamin B12? Are they not aware that sobes from around the city would relish being taken into consideration? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Well now they are. The doubters shall claim their booby prize. This, my friends, is my ego’s “A-ha!” moment in the sun. The NY Post’s verified, hard-hitting piece proves what sober New Yorkers already knew. We rule this town. Now that that’s settled, um, I have a tiny confession to make. Erm, I must backtrack and admit that I might have itty bitty mixed feelings about the sober night club trend. There, I said it. While I am ecstatic that sobriety is becoming less freakish and more acceptable, I secretly wonder if trendy alcohol-free night clubs will be too hip for me, the same way regular bars are. I mean, honestly, at the end of the day, I’m not that cool. I’m awkward in both scenarios. What if it’s dull? What if the hipsters are cliquey? What if everyone is clear-eyed and lucid? I love my co-lifestyle mates and was

Below: There is still some static around the subject of abstinence, but for now, Kristen feels vindicated.

recently thrilled to order a dear friend a drink called “Please Stop Talking” last week. She appreciated the gesture. Have I, too, come to rely upon the social lubrication of others? I will rally on her behalf. After all, why should she be robbed of the opportunity to buy me a special alcohol-free number called “Down The Rabbit Hole” if she were so inclined? Trending or not, every night is a sober night out for me. When this fad moves along, I am not confused about the fact that I’ll still be sober in the city. I will be sober in the suburbs too. Heck, if I continue to stalk myself, I will be sober everywhere I go. By the grace of God, I have been spared. I am lucky enough to be an alcoholic in recovery. I will buck up and check out some of the places supporting our people. Will you join me? Will you say hi if you see me? Will you buy me a drink? It’s been a long time coming. Enjoy Pride, you have so much to be proud of. Your friend,

“What if it’s dull? What if the hipsters are cliquey? What if everyone is clear-eyed and lucid? “



An internationally recognized author, artist, and motivational speaker, Kristen has written and published two books and is the voice behind Soul Soup books, prints, and greeting cards. Listen to her weekly Sober in the City podcast. If you’re having a hard time with drugs and alcohol, find support meetings at nyintergroup.org









ID we mark the first ever Free Friay at Intrepid with a fabulous launch party for our food issue? Hell yes, we did! We wined and dined overlooking the Hudson, with food from Empanada Mama, Fresh From Hell, Sullivan Street Bakery, Schmackary’s, and Taboon. Cocktails were provided courtesy of Blue Bottle gin, wine came from Grand Cru, and we partied on with Bacana sangria. Thanks to all who came. Don’t forget the next Free Friday on June 21!



Above: Editor Ruth Walker, publisher Phil O’Brien, and the team behind the cover, Charles Dustin Sammann and Yani Monzón Calero. Left: Phil O’Brien chats with artist Gwyneth Leech in the Great Hall at Intrepid.


Clockwise from top: Ryan Hong from Wells Fargo; Ruth Walker and Michael MuĂąoz; the food issue; lining up at the bar; Alden Gagnon and Gabie Rudyte; pouring out the West Side cocktail; drink, anyone?




Listen. Educate yourself. Recognize your own privilege. Make space for each other. Be kinder. You think you’re an ally? These are the ways you can show it




Summer Dunwoody (they/them) is a New York Citybased actor, artist, and LGBTQ+ activist. They are always learning to expand their knowledge in the hopes of creating a more inclusive industry. You can find more of them at @abriefsumery on Instagram.

AINSLEY “Education and information are powerful tools for any ally. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, or in fact any community around the world, are more often than not just seeking to be understood, as most have been denied that at some stage in their journey. The more you learn about each other, the greater scope there is for empathy and understanding. A powerful ally is a knowledgeable one.” Ainsley Melham (he/him/his) is currently playing the lead in Aladdin, in his Broadway debut. He appeared on seasons 1-3 of Hi-5 House as a member of the musical group Hi-5. Follow him on Instagram at @ainsleymelham.

KATE “In my stand-up I talk a lot about my identity, and one time the comic who went up after me harassed me during his set. We got into a yelling match, and while I wish someone else had spoken up, a woman did come up and put her hand on my shoulder, which made me feel OK enough to stay there. “And the story has a good ending because, about a year later, I turned the guy into a punchline. Audiences now give applause breaks over how stupid he is. “If you're cis and straight, but want to partake in or learn more about queer culture, go experience queer art. It's a supportive and respectful way to visit a queer space.” Kate Sisk is a comedian, writer, and house team improviser at the Upright Citizens Brigade, whose work tackles sexuality, gender identity, and, among other things, the woes of a retired athlete. Kate performed at the HBO Women In Comedy Festival, and has toured college campuses with LOLGBT Comedy Tours, of which Kate is a cofounding member.



“I came out as nonbinary to my family about a year ago, and when I did, I was met with only love, inclusion, and acceptance. Though it took them a bit to get used to using they/ them as a singular pronoun, no one misses a beat anymore. That includes my two little brothers who are four years old. It took a bit of explaining, and lots of correcting on our part, but my FOUR-YEAR-OLD BROTHERS can call me by the correct pronouns. “I very recently (April 4, 2019) spent a week in Florida getting gender-affirming top surgery and my family went with me. There was a teacher at my brother Jude's school that was asking him about his trip to Florida and he was explaining me and my identity to his teacher. She would keep saying ‘she’ and ‘her’ and Jude would not end the conversation until the teacher understood that I was not a girl, and I wasn't becoming a boy. “Over Passover/Easter weekend, we were all sat down for dinner and I was talking to my friend about my recovery and jokingly said, ‘I'm a tender boy,’ and Izzy, my other brother, said, ‘Hey! You're not a boy! Or a girl!’ “I am just a person. They both correct their friends when they are around to play. They explained it to their cousin who came to visit. They also both correct our parents. They both still mess up sometimes because, you know, they are four, but, gosh, if they don't try their absolute hardest. It's gotten to a point where they are some of the biggest, and most unashamed, advocates for me. “I think it's been my biggest lesson on supporting myself, and supporting other LGBTQ+ folks in my life. My four-year-old brothers have normalized the concept of someone not being a boy or a girl (they often wonder aloud about their toys and other animals’ genders). The normalcy they create makes it so much easier to exist. “Normalize non-binaryness. Normalize ‘they’ as a singular pronoun. If four-year-olds can respect other people's pronouns, anyone can.”


NETANEL “The best way I can describe allyship is someone who stands outside of the community that you identify with who is there to support you. When I was in high school, I was very lucky to have discovered an afterschool arts studio that hired me to assist their portfolio class for four years. I had previously taken this class to help me transfer into an arts magnet high school, and when I took it, I finally found a support system that believed in me, because the school I came from looked down on the arts. However, it was not until I started to work there, that I realized just how much of an impact this space had on LGBTQ+ teenagers who were just beginning to verbally express how they’d always felt about their identities. “As if teenagers don’t have enough to stress over, many of the students I got to work with had to worry about if they would be rejected or accepted by their loved ones while keeping up with their grades and creating a 20-piece portfolio. This is a lot of pressure for a teen, but this studio became their safe space as it allowed them to express their feelings and differences through art, and talk to their friends or our educators about any of their struggles, knowing that they would not leave the studio. “I quickly learned that, to be a better ally, you have to give the floor to the person whose experience it really is, and sometimes that means you simply need to observe and listen, because that in and of itself means the world. It was never solely about making the space comfortable, it was about making sure every teen that walked through the door felt equal in spirit.” Netanel Saso (she/her) is an art student and educator originally from Dallas, Texas. Follow her work and life on Instagram at @netanelsaso.



“I’m thinking a lot lately about how to be more in touch with my childlike self. We build incredible walls around our most vulnerable, delicious parts – whether because of trauma or heartbreak or fear – and I’m figuring out how to tear down those walls without worrying what other people might think. “I try to build my performances around some aspect of myself I would rather keep hidden. If I’m frightened by a creative impulse, I know I’m moving in the right direction. What I understand now is that, the more I share my vulnerable, flawed spirit with the world around me, and the more I connect with who I was as a child – bursting with shameless wonder, enthusiasm, and queer joy – the more I make space for others to do the same thing. “What did you want, more than anything else, when you were a little kid? In your heart of hearts, I bet it hasn’t really changed all that much.” Johnny Drago (he/they) is a queer writer and performer who loves to laugh and get laughed at. Catch him playing one unsettling character after another with his house team, Velvet Mommy, on the last Thursday of each month at UCB Hell’s Kitchen.



JANELLE “The question has been asked; How do we become better humans? Originally, it seemed like a small answer would do: recycle, compost, stop using plastic straws, be kinder. But as most of our simple questions these days go, it took further probing. I once read a quote that said, and I'm paraphrasing: ‘We are all innately human, but it's how we operate that makes us people.’ So, to think about becoming a better person, I thought about what makes a person. “For me, a person is built up of many tiny moral codes: thou shall not steal, always hear out your parents, look before crossing the road, cover your mouth when you sneeze, etc. But a person must also know that it’s impolite to sit while a pregnant woman stands on the subway, at least not without offering. “So if you’re succeeding with all those things, you are successfully being a person and can move on to trying to being a better person. That can be as easy as composting or growing your own vegetables and sharing your extras. But it’s also bigger than the individual things: it’s noticing the community, the other people around you and thinking about how they’re feeling, what they’re going through. It’s being gentle with angry people when you can see that they’re just hurting, but also holding true to your own emotional health and place in the world. It’s laughing through the frustration and holding yourself accountable; bettering ourselves as individuals while realizing we must also better our community, our people. “To be better humans is to be a better person, and to be a better person we must first see the knowledge in exploring the world through all perspectives.”

BRIANA “I am non-binary, not a woman (though sometimes I play women in my job), and I have a uterus. The reproductive rights issues we are discussing right now concern people with uteruses. This includes people who are cis women, trans men, non-binary, and intersex. “Additionally, not all women have uteruses. And men with uteruses are generally not among the men trying to take away our rights. “So: some people are inclined to talk about ‘women' in many cases where it would be more accurate to say, ‘people with uteruses.’ Where you might be inclined to say, ‘women’s rights,’ you could say, ‘reproductive rights.’ If you want to talk about the men who don’t have uteruses, you would say, ‘cis men.’ “This isn’t a nitpicky thing, it’s essential to this battle – we all have to fight together right now, so we need to recognize, and linguistically support, that we are in it together. “I see ‘women’s’ this and that all day, and it compounds my sadness about the news, and makes me feel invisible to the people I need to stand with. “Yes, it’s confusing at first if you aren’t used to it – but it has always been true. When folx realized the earth was round, it was disorienting, but it was just a language change to catch up to reality. And people adjusted (well, most of us did, oy!). And I promise, if you practice a little and actually see trans, non-binary, and intersex people for who they are (and you all are allies, right? So you want to see us, I know!) it will become so easy to speak this way. “I say in earnest: if you have questions (and I’m so glad if you’re encouraged to learn more) this is very google-able: Trans 101, HRC, SRLP – and Teen Vogue is actually one of my favorite mainstream sources these days for easily digestible articles on current social justice issues." Briana Sakamoto (they/them) is a NY-based actor/singer (brianasakamoto.com).


Janelle Lawrence (she, her, they, them) is a writer, composer, and lyricist behind the musicals Subliminal, 'Tis The Season, Mixing Marx With Madness, and Group Therapy. She’s the artistic director of Broad Views on Broadway, a non-profit theatre company dedicated to providing equal opportunity and representation of new theatre works, and is the co-moderator of Musical Theatre Factory’s Women/Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Roundtable (janellelawrence.com).





BETHANY "In my opinion, there’s a secret to being an ally – whether it’s being an ally to yourself or to others. Keyword: boundaries. Yep. There is nothing more respectful (and sometimes hard to do) than to seek out a friend’s boundaries and learn to uphold them. “Sometimes they let you know overtly, through a story of something that happened to them. Clock it and put it in the memory bank. Sometimes it doesn’t come up until it’s happened directly with YOU, which can feel uncomfortable or awkward. And that’s OK. We’re all different people, so occasionally we cross each other’s boundaries. But being an ally means that, once you’ve been told a boundary, you look out for it. "The world is full of people, so it’s full of opportunities for boundaries to be crossed. Be an ally. Embrace the chance to understand your friends and respect them. “And the same works for you (though it’s perhaps even harder). When you start to get that nagging feeling that your boundaries are being crossed, write it down when you can. Look at that paragraph and understand exactly what it is that makes you feel that way. That’s the language you need to tell your friend, co-worker, or loved one. You deserve people who don’t cross your boundaries too, and that starts when you can be clear about your feelings, and find a way to speak them out loud. “Establishing boundaries can be hard, but it’s a surefire way to be a great ally to yourself."

BRIANNE “When I was married (to a woman), I was often asked: ‘What does your husband do?’ “Another common question: ‘When did you decide to be gay?’ “Common offensive statements range from. ‘You don’t look gay’ to, ‘You’ve never been with me, I bet I could change you back to the other side.’ “Not everyone is straight and not everyone is gay, but EVERYONE deserves respect for who they are. so leave the assumptions at the door and the ignorant comments right behind them.” Brianne Demmler lives in Hell's Kitchen with her partner and dog Toby.

Bethany Lauren James is an actress based in New York. Her TV credits include The Deuce and A Crime to Remember and, Off-Broadway, Daisy in Disguise (bethanylaurenjames.com).

June 21, July 19, August 16 DIGITAL EDITION


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he following is part of a conversation between young artists that was incorporated into the 15-minute performance piece Artivism as part of Rebel Verses Arts Festival. Isabel: “We should all name why we have to be good allies. For example: I’m queer, so I need allies. But I’m also white, so I need to BE an ally.” Elijah: “I’m black, so I need allies. But I’m also a man, so I need to be an ally.” Jennifer: “I’m a queer woman of color, so I need allies. But I’m also cis, so I need to be an ally. Bryson: “You know when I felt the most like I needed an ally? It was the first time I liked a guy, I told him he looked like a boy Snow White. I thought princess was a compliment, but he told everyone that was ‘some gay shit.’ I felt really alone. It would’ve been a lot easier if I had someone on my side. That’s why I think allies are really important.” Ensemble: “We’re on your side.” “It’s ok.” “We’re allies together.” KT: “Yo, I went on a third date with Salena.” Elijah: “She a hottie.” KT: “Yeah, but also she got a nice smile. She’s smart too.” Naila: “Are you talkin’ ‘bout that white chick?” KT: “Yeah, that’s the thing. She asked me if she could call me her n*****.” Ensemble: “She did what?!” “What

the f***?!” “Nuh Uh. NO!” Xara: “So you’re not seeing her anymore right? ‘cause that’s NOT all right.” KT: “That’s what I’m saying. That’s why I need my allies.” Tim: “We’re here man.” John: “We got you.” Jaden: “That’s tough, bro.” Isabel: “You know what’s fucking tough? Being a GIRL. Quick. List. Go. Disgusting things that happened to you on the way here. Today!” Xara: “Got told to smile.” Jennifer: “Whistled at my ass.” Salena: “Dude said I was exotic.” Brianna: “I got hit on … IN class.” Dora: “Got called a bitch.” Naila: “Got called a se-duc-tive nym-ph.”

Above: Performing the conversation on stage.

Isabel: “A guy stared at me while jerking off on the subway.” Xara: “That’s happened to me too.” Jennifer: “Me too.” Brianna: “Me too.” Salena & Naila: “Me too.” Isabel: “This situation is so specific. Why has this happened to so many of us? I feel like this is indicative of a much larger problem! And that’s NOT all right.” Ensemble: “Yeah, that’s fucked up.” “This shit gotta stop.” John: “GROUP HUG!” Harvaniya (Amidst a group hug): “This is a good way for us to be allies.” Isabel: “You know what’s a good way to be an ally: don’t be an asshole.” Salena: “Other good ways to be an ally: don’t touch my hair.” Tim: “Don’t go to a women’s march to pick up women.” Jennifer: “Don’t only march for the issues that directly affect you.” Bryson: “The best way to be a good ally is to show up.” Xara: “To listen.” Elijah: “Commit.” Developing Artists is a nonprofit that provides performing arts opportunities for underserved teens. Their most recent piece, Artivism, was performed at Poetic Theater’s Generation Now and Together in Resilience, and they were invited to open for NY Women’s Foundation: Celebrating Women Breakfast last month (developingartists. org).

Ensemble: Dora Batinovic (she/her/hers), Bryson Brunson (he/him/his), Isabel Culpepper (she/her/hers), Jaden DeArmon (he/him/his), Jennifer Henriquez (she/her/ hers), Timothy Kim (he/him/his), Harvaniya Krishnan (she/her/hers), Amaya Montanez (she/her/hers), John Negron (he/him/his), Naila Negron (she/her/hers), Elijah Smith (he/him/his), Salena Steward (she/her/hers), Brianna Suarez-Thomas (she/her/hers), KT/Kelfallah Toronka (he/him/his), Xara Williams (she/her/hers)





EVERYBODY HURTS If you’re still confused about intersectionality, Sarah Brown provides a brief guide


Interview Ruth Walker Photograph Joe Delahunty

t’s a word that’s been around since the 1980s – coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw – but you could be forgiven for thinking that intersectionality was having a bit of a moment. And while its origin lies in the feminist movement – specifically addressing the fact that women of color experience discrimination to a much greater degree than their white sisters – it can now apply to pretty much any -ism you care to mention (racism, sexism, classism). “It's about including everyone,” says Sarah Brown, producer and host of Queerience podcast. “When people talk about the feminist movement, it's mostly white women, and a lot of women of color are excluded from that conversation. So are trans women.” The same discrimination is happening in the LGBTQ+ community. “In a lot of queer or LGBTQ+ spaces, they are

predominantly white. A lot of times there aren't any trans people or there aren't any people of color. “And if you're not being included in the narrative, if you're not being represented, it's as if you're invisible, as if your story doesn't matter. And that's something that I need to check my privilege about because, while I am gay, I am a cis white woman, and a lot of the systems that are put in place right now are geared toward my advantage and my privilege.” So, to ensure all sections of society feel seen and heard, they must be represented in the conversation. “No offense to cis white gay men – we love everyone – but a lot of queer spaces are for them. You look at the gay bar scene right now, and I can name probably five bars in a five-block radius in Hell’s Kitchen that are not lesbian-friendly, are not always trans-friendly, they're not always POC-friendly.”

“If you're not being included in the narrative, if you're not being represented, it's as if you're invisible, as if your story doesn't matter.”




Sarah Brown has lived in NYC for six years. She's an Equity stage manager, and hosts and produces two podcasts: Queerience and She's An Artist. Queerience was born out of a desire to tell the stories of the Queer community. bit.lyqueerience

And we can’t talk intersectionality and ignore a growing marginalized group: the massive 30% of LGBTQ+ adults who identify as having a disability (that's in contrast to 12.6% of the general population). Why so many? “A lot of the LGBTQ+ community suffers trauma from not being accepted by their parents or their loved ones, or being bullied,” says Sarah. “It's a huge problem. "You feel like you can't be yourself and you're inside a cage with this weight on your shoulders. That does a lot to affect your mental health.” That anxiety can be exacerbated when you never know if a new space you’re entering is going to be queerfriendly or not. “And in some communities it's still a stigma to go to therapy. Some of my friends say, ‘We don't talk about our issues. We don't go to therapy. That's not a thing.’ And we need to change that. “I suffer from anxiety and depression. I have my good days and bad. But every day it's important to talk about it and, when you have a really good day, to celebrate that. And when you have a bad day, to humble yourself and say, ‘This is OK. I'll have a good day, soon, maybe tomorrow.’” And it’s the responsibility of the rest of us to ensure we’re creating a safe space for the whole community. How, you ask? By doing the work. “Educate yourself,” says Sarah. “Know the proper terminology, know the vocabulary. To be a good ally requires patience on both ends. “It's one thing to post a hashtag on Instagram. But you actually have to do the work and listen to your friends when they try and tell you something, or when they call you out. It means they care.”

You can find support, resources, and empowerment at the LGBTQ Center (gaycenter.org) and the Hetrick-Martin Institute (hmi.org).


EXES BAGGAGE Three exes. Doing a podcast. From the bedroom. This could be awkward


Interview Ruth Walker Photograph Phil O'Brien

or most of us, let’s face it, you break up and, with any luck, you'll never have to look at that irritating, smug face ever again. Amiright? These guys? Two months later, they’re doing a podcast together. With ANOTHER ex. Evolved? Foolhardy? You decide. (I don’t even think they’re entirely


sure.) Antonio Monteiro, Anthony Trapani, and Louis Broccoli ("like the vegetable”) have been recording Babble of the Exes from Anthony’s studio apartment on W42nd St since December 2018. They talk about everything from dating to anal swabs. But some subjects are still a little too … tricky … to pick over. To refresh: Antonio and Louis meet in


Above: Antonio, Anthony and Louis get scrappy.

2012. They move in together after four months, live together for four months, then have a big, old tumultuous breakup. “Yeah, it was tough,” says Antonio. “We haven't spoken about it yet on the podcast,” agrees Louis. Is it too raw? “It's not too raw, but …,” begins Antonio. “I think there's a difference of opinion

as to what happened,” says Louis. Regardless, they remain friends. Fast forward to 2015, and Louis meets Anthony. They move in together after two months, get a dog a month later, and break up in August 2018. “I moved out in September,” says Anthony. “We started talking about the podcast in October and started recording it December. It was still very fresh with the breakup and we were going through a lot emotionally. Then we had a conversation and said, ‘Let's just do it,’ and the next day, started recording.” The starting point was a mutual love of The Real Housewives. They figured it would be fun to recap old seasons, talk about new seasons … “We could make connections like, ‘Oh, they're going to get a divorce! Look at all the rockiness in their relationship!” says Louis. Anyone spotting any parallels yet?

“The fact is the three of us have a really strong bond,” says Antonio, “and our interests are so similar. Anthony and Louis didn't want to not be in each other's lives, so it just kind of formed naturally. We were like, ‘Let's work through this.’” Antonio is the driver of the trio; the more mouthy one. If he was a Spice Girl, I suggest, he’d be Scary. But if they were Housewives? “I’m Bethenny,” says Louis, “I'M Bethenny,” says Antonio. I guess everyone wants to be Bethenny. “Yeah, we all want to be Bethenny,” laughs Antonio. “That's the premise.” For those who don’t know, Bethenny Frankel is a "strong business woman who says whatever she wants,” says Antonio. “Kind of emotionally distant …” adds Louis. “Maybe that IS you!” says Antonio. “I think Antonio’s Ramona, actually,” suggests Anthony. “Oh my God! That's fucked up!” says Louis. “Ramona has absolutely no selfawareness," says Antonio. "That's my only thing with her. She says whatever's on her mind. She's just bossy and completely politically incorrect.” So, fine. Louis is Bethenny and Antonio’s Ramona. Who’s Anthony? “I feel like … maybe Carole? She's down to earth and just kind of normal.” Bethenny and Carole also had a big falling out, so … Along with the occasional underlying tension and bickering, there’s also a deep, genuine affection for each other. “You know what's funny?” says Antonio. “Two episodes ago, we were reading Chelsea Handler's new book and she talks

“It would have been very easy for us to not talk to each other, to not hang out, to not work through some of these hard conversations … but the message was: do it for the pod."


about the three centers of intelligence and how everyone copes in the world by operating from one of these three centers. It's either from your gut, from your heart, or from your brain. And we all felt we were each one. So Louis very much operates from his gut, almost from a place of anger when he's feeling distress, as a way of coping in the world.” “I'm brain – I go to a place of intellectually analyzing everything. And Anthony's more heart – he gets very much into his own feelings about it. So, somehow, we're the trifecta.” They’ve all moved on in their relationship status. Antonio and Anthony are "single and sleeping around." Louis is seeing someone. And some subjects still stay on the cutting room floor. Sometimes they get into a fight. Sometimes it gets dirty. Sometimes it's just plain awkward. “A lot of the topics we don't talk about or we've just recently started talking about, even personally, are about relationship status – who we're seeing, if we're dating, things which in the past have been off the table,” says Antonio. “I think we've gotten to this point in our friendship because of the podcast,” says Anthony. “It would have been very easy for us to not talk to each other, to not hang out, to not work through some of these hard conversations, if we weren't recording the podcast, but it became such a passion project for us. The message was: do it for the pod. "It sounds silly, but it really became like a therapy session because it forced us to go though it …" “Acknowledge what's awkward,” says Louis. And as the podcast has evolved to include other subjects – personal experiences, headlines in the news, interviews – they always come back to the Housewives. “We love them,” says Antonio. “I don't know why, but I feel like gay men in general are attracted to strong women. It's like we've always felt marginalized growing up, or we've looked to them as heroes, so it's always appealing to watch women who don't take any bullshit, and just give it back.” babbleoftheexes.com



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THE FACTS ABOUT PrEP B And why more people who should be on it aren’t

y 1995, the number of AIDS-related deaths in the US had reached an all-time high: 319,849 people had lost their lives from the disease, and it had become the leading cause of death among Americans aged 25 to 44. These days, the buzz around HIV and AIDS is so quiet, you could almost be forgiven for thinking it had gone away. Almost. Because the truth is, that


while those dying from the disease are signifcantly fewer than at the height of the AIDS epidemic (15,807 in 2016), the number of new infections every year has stopped declining and has plateaued at around 39,000 The reason? While effective prevention exists, it’s not reaching those who could benefit most. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a combination of two drugs taken in a single pill daily that can reduce the risk


Above: Men who have sex with other men are at the highest risk of contracting the HIV virus – yet only a small percentage of them are using PrEP.

of getting HIV through sex by more than 90%. However, there is currently only one medication available in the US. And that, explains Dr Vino Palli, is called Truvada. “It has been available for four to five years at least,” says the founder and CEO of MiDoctor in Hell’s Kitchen. “But only about 10% to 15% of patients who are at high risk are on PrEP right now. And the reason is that Truvada is an extremely expensive drug. It costs about $1,600 a month, so patients who have good insurance are the ones who are able to access it. “If you don't have insurance, it's pretty difficult, simply because of the price. “There are a lot more patients who should be going on PrEP to prevent infection. In 2019, we shouldn't have a single HIV positive patient.” Keeping that price artificially high is the fact that the maker of Truvada – Gilead – has a US monopoly. “The cost of Truvada is $6 on the international market. But when you come to the United States, it's $1,600. It's completely ridiculous,” says Dr Palli Early last month, Gilead announced


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Left: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spells it out.

that it had finally reached a deal with pharmaceutical company Teva to bring a generic Truvada to the market by September 2020, and Dr Palli can’t wait. MiDoctor is the first facility in New York City to offer PrEP in an urgent care setting, and desperately wants to see more people getting access to it. “With us, you don't have to make an appointment and wait for 15 days or three months to come into a doctor's office,” he explains. “You can just walk in. We examine the patient, take their history, allergies, and do something called PrEP labs – blood counts, liver function, kidney function, etc. “The prescription is for 90 days. And every three months we do the PrEP labs again, to compare liver function, kidney function, blood count.” Once generic PrEP is available, the next step will be PrEP on demand – fewer pills, taken on an as-needed basis, “something like a morning after pill. You just take two pills the day before, and then one pill 24 and another 48 hours later." Then, ultimately, he hopes there will be a vaccine. Meanwhile, the news about a generic Truvada was – cautiously – hailed as a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, activists warned that allowing just one manufacturer to make generic PrEP would make insufficient impact on the high price. “Even if it won’t be $6, I think if it's $25 a month or $50 a month, people will still be able to afford it," says Dr Palli. "But if you price point it at $1,600, which is 26,000% more than the international market, it's insane. “In the meantime, people are getting sick, because they have no access to this lifesaving drug.” midoctoruc.com Twitter: @prep4allnow

HIV STATS Around 1.1 million people in the US are living with HIV today. About 15% of them (one in seven) are unaware they are infected. Young people are the most likely group to be unaware of their infection. In 2015, among those aged 13-24 who were living with HIV, more than half didn’t know. In 2017, 38,739 people received an HIV diagnosis in the US. After about five years of substantial declines, the number of annual HIV infections began to level off in 2013, to about 39,000 per year In 2017, 17,803 people in the US received a stage 3 (AIDS) diagnosis. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are at the greatest risk of infection.

June 21, July 19, August 16 DIGITAL EDITION



Say hello to



The arts has been telling the stories of the LGBTQ+ community for decades. Elizabeth Durand Streisand charts some of the highlights


hange doesn’t happen overnight – and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is no exception. Over the years, Broadway has acted as both a haven for the community and as an incubator to present new viewpoints to a wider audience. Here’s a brief timeline of some of the most pivotal LGBTQ+-focused stories to ever grace the Great White Way … so far.

times. In the original production, he was left in the closet – and Grey himself came out as a gay man a full five decades later. By Bob Fosse’s 1972 version, the Emcee had become bi-curious. When the musical returned to Broadway in 1987, he was officially bisexual. And ever since Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall took the reins in 1998, he’s been a gay man gearing up the courage to openly express himself.

1966 Cabaret

If this title sounds familiar, it’s probably due to the star-studded Broadway revival last year. The play, which got its start Off-Broadway, revolves around a group of gay men who gather for a birthday party in New York City. At

Conceived by Hal Prince and starring Joel Grey, much of the story is anchored by the character known as the Master of Ceremonies (Grey), and how he is depicted has evolved with the


1968 The Boys in the Band


Broadway continues its support off stage with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which is one of the nation’s leading industrybased HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. Since 1988, BC/ EFA has raised over $300 million for essential services for people with HIV/ AIDS and other critical illnesses.

the time it was a groundbreaking, honest portrayal of gay life – arguably one of the first to hit the stage. In fact, the original production has been cited as a catalyst to the 1969 Stonewall riots and the gay rights movement in general.

1983 La Cage aux Folles

This atypical musical features an aging, gay couple who are forced to hide their sexual orientation in order to meet the fiancée of one of their sons. George Hearn, one of the original leads, admitted he’d struggled with whether to take the role at all. “It’s funny, but I never thought twice about playing a coldblooded murderer like Sweeney Todd,” he revealed. “But this

OUT gave me pause.” In 1984, the show took home six Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction, and Best Musical. That alone marked an important milestone for LGBTQ+ stories.

1985 The Normal Heart

The early 1980s marked the rise of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which spurred some of the most eloquent and heartbreaking stories to hit Broadway as focus shifted from relationships to a major health crisis. Written by Larry Kramer, the Off-Broadway production of The Normal Heart was hailed as both outspoken and on point, and was subsequently revived in Los Angeles, London, and New York before making a Broadway debut in 2011.

1991 Angels in America

Tony Kushner’s dense, metaphorical, two-part play examines AIDS and homosexuality in the 1980s. It reached Broadway in 1993, and won not only the Tony Award for Best Play, but also a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, not everyone was pleased. In 1996, a production of Angels in America in Charlotte, North Carolina, almost didn’t happen when conservative activists opposed the show’s frontal nudity. An order from a judge merely three hours before the curtain time gave the show clearance to go on as planned.

1996 Rent

In 1996 an Off-Broadway musical based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme moved to Broadway proper and became an immediate hit. The show was Rent. It went on to win the Tony for Best Musical, the Pulitzer Prize, and run for 12 years straight. As a refresh, Rent follows a group of 20-somethings struggling with homelessness, poverty, and AIDS. What made this show different to many of its predecessors that tackled the same topic, however, was the show’s emphasis on celebrating people living with, not dying from, the disease.

2006 Spring Awakening

Based on a (banned) play from 1891, Spring Awakening looks at LGBTQ+ issues through the wider lens of teenage selfdiscovery. The original 2006 production won eight Tony Awards and earned a Grammy for composers Duncan Sheik and Steven Slater, but arguably the most impactful version was Deaf West’s 2015 revival, which portrayed some characters as deaf and incorporated American Sign Language in the production.

2012 Kinky Boots

Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein teamed up to create this feel-good musical that follows the story of a failing shoe factory owner who teams up with




Elizabeth Durand Streisand is the cofounder and CEO of Broadway Roulette, a fun and easy way to see Broadway shows. Pick a date and number of tickets, give some info about what you like (and don’t!), and spin the wheel for a surprise show matching your criteria. All tickets cost only $49 on weekdays or $59 on weekends and Broadway Roulette will never send you to the same show twice. Visit broadwayroulette.com / IG: @broadwayroulette

a drag queen to make a line of highheeled boots to save the family business. The production won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score, and Lauper became the first female to win solo in that category.

2013 Fun Home

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Fun Home follows Alison’s coming out journey and her father’s discreet homosexuality. While earlier musicals (most notably Rent) included previously established lesbian couples, Fun Home was the first show to feature a single lesbian protagonist in process of finding herself. It made its way to Broadway and won five 2015 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

2018 The Prom

Then it was time to go to The Prom. When a high school PTA tries to block a student from bringing her girlfriend to prom, four Broadway stars decide to shine a spotlight on the issue. The show features an established teenage couple, but one of the girls is not yet open about her sexuality. When the show performed during the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, activist groups protested the same-sex kiss at the end of the song. The Prom was nominated for seven Tony Awards this year, including Best Musical.




EAT It began at the height of the AIDS crisis; now God’s Love We Deliver is at the forefront of research into food as medicine Interview Ruth Walker Portrait Phil O’Brien


hil Harris is a striking man; I would ever hear AIDS being a part tall, elegant, with precise, of who I was. Then when I lost my languid movements. In his business, my home and everything, I right ear hangs an exquisite just gave up. But I’m a living witness baroque lantern. Inside that that you can go through a dark place stands a tiny gold, male figure. and, if you learn how to be still and An artist and designer, Phil proudly connect with something that’s much displays more examples of his work higher than you are, you can see the on the wall: a fashion photograph, light at the end of the tunnel.” press clippings, a detailed gold, gemBorn in Indianapolis, beaten by encrusted cross that wouldn’t have his father, he never learned to read looked out of place and still suffers at the Costume some learning Institute’s difficulties. Heavenly Bodies “I’m somewhat exhibition last illiterate,” he says. year. “So many people “I made that are faced with that piece when I lived same challenge in a shelter,” he and are afraid to says. “I made it speak about it, during a dark time. but I have found a I was trying to way for all of this commit suicide, to work for me so there was blood, I see it truly as a there was sweat, blessing.” there was anger, everything went Introduced to jewelry design by a into that piece. However, it turned out female impersonator – “He said, Phil, beautifully and I think that’s what art is you know you’re very creative. I think all about. It’s an expression of who you you can do this.’ And I said, ‘OK, I’m are in the moment.” going to play with it and see.’” – he Phil is one of more than came to New York more than 30 7,200 people across the five years ago and worked as a boroughs who receives stylist for the late singer regular, tailored meals Phyllis Hyman. every year through He built up quite a God’s Love We name for himself as Deliver. He’s HIV a designer. He fell meals delivered positive (undetectable) in love, opened up a since 1985 and, following multiple bakery with his partner suicide attempts, he has … but when they broke no sense of taste or smell, up, he fell into a deep, deep making cooking and eating depression. incredibly difficult. “I tried taking my life 15 times in “I lived on the streets of New York 2003,” he says. “All of that is part of my for nine months, and I never thought story. My story is raw. And if people

“My story is raw. And if people are not ready to hear raw, then they really don’t want to hear a story.”






EAT are not ready to hear raw, then they really don’t want to hear a story. “I was at rock bottom,” he says. “Then I met a psychiatrist – that I still have today – and he became my angel. The way I see God is through his spirit, through his energy, through his blessings. He’s the one that stopped me from making those type of decisions. He came into my life and he changed everything.” He was building up his strength emotionally. But, physically, he still struggled to eat. “Everything tasted like water,” he explains. “My doctor said, ‘Phil, you have to eat.’ “I remember when I first started receiving GLWD, it was just a blessing. It was something I truly looked forward to. But it was also a way for me to connect with eating healthy.” GLWD began in 1985, at the height of

Below: GLWD caters for 1.8m people every year.

the AIDS epidemic, with just medicines a day, so how food interacts one hospice volunteer, Ganga with their medication is extremely Stone, delivering a meal on her bike important to one man, Richard Sale, who was too “As drug cocktails came on the scene ill to cook for himself. Now they home in the 1990s and people were living deliver more than 1.8 million longer,” says Emmett Findley, of meals every year, with a GLWD, “we recognized that fleet of 22 vans, give more we had this model of food than 4,000 nutrition as medicine, of nutritious counseling sessions, food, and nutritional and work with 14,000 education, and volunteers from a counseling for people pounds of carrots purpose-built base who are sick that we chopped last year in SoHo. could apply to all types Using their knowledge of other illnesses.” of food as medicine, each So clients with meal is low sodium, containing cardiovascular disease, kidney lean protein, whole grains, and fresh disease, Alzheimer’s, MS, and cancer, vegetables, then is further tailored to as well as HIV, are all catered for, the individual client’s needs, based on without cost to the end user, and with their illness, treatment, and preferences. no waiting list. For instance, some clients take ten “When we started, we were serving



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VOLUNTEER Name: Norma Grant, former teacher. Years of service: 23 years “It was the late 1980s and I decided I needed to work for an organization that was helping people with AIDS. I started at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and was working with one client, a little girl who was 12 years old and had AIDS. She passed away and it was very tough. “Through GMHC I heard about GLWD. So I decided that maybe I could chop vegetables and be useful in that way rather than in this very, very intense,

primarily young, gay men who were and hungry is a crisis and that if you’re living with the illness. Now 63% of our having difficulty caring, shopping, or client base are age 60 and over; 40% are cooking for yourself, how can you age 70 and older. So, many of our clients possibly care for others?” live with not just one diagnosis but The only qualifications to receive multiple. And it’s a case of how do meals from GLWD is that you live in the we address their nutrition needs and New York City metropolitan area, you their meal needs if someone has both have a home address, and that you’re cancer and HIV, cancer and multiple too sick to shop or cook for yourself. sclerosis, etc? And their team of dietitians and “We can modify our nutritionists help advise meals 16 different ways, similar organizations all but if you combine that, over the country through that’s almost a million the Food is Medicine different combinations. coalition. We can do low fat, low “We all work under gallons of soup sugar, low spice, renal this umbrella belief that ladled meals for clients who food is medicine,” says have kidney disease. We Emmett. “And, ultimately, can also modify the texture. that food is love, and we So, for someone who has trouble know how much a nourishing chewing and swallowing – if they’ve meal can mean to someone. Like Phil gone through radiation for throat cancer, was saying, he might feel loved or feel for instance – we can mince or puree really important, but it’s that nutrition their meals. component that is really, really key.” “And, not only do we serve our “I want to live,” says Phil, as we clients who are living with severe and prepare to leave him with his lunch. chronic illness, but we also serve their “In spite of all of that that happened in children and their senior caregivers, 2003, I made a decision to live. And I because we recognize that being sick have so much to live for.”

Above: Chopping up a storm in the GLWD kitchens.

personal kind of relationship. So that’s what brought me to GLWD. Although, then it became a personal relationship because I’m delivering to the same people very often. “I’ve done different kinds of jobs. Right now, I deliver two days a week. Then I go into the kitchen on Thursday mornings and help pack out the meals and do special events.”


As part of World Pride NYC, an immersive culinary experience called Savor Pride takes place on June 28 to benefit God’s Love We Deliver (2019-worldpride-stonewall50.nycpride.org) glwd.org




Bella Abzug Park Av e


n so

Tuesdays 10:30am - 11:15am

Hu d

Kids Playground Concert

Bl vd



Ja v


Ce n





Located between West 34th and West 36th Streets, mid-block between 10th and 11th Avenues, Bella Abzug Park is maintained and operated by the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance (HYHK). The park is host to seasonal wellness classes, movie screenings, a farmers market, art exhibitions, weekly kids entertainment, and more. If you’re interested in hosting an event or activity of your own, email us at info@hyhkalliance.org!

W 35th St E

Yoga Flow

Bl vd

Saturdays 10am - 11am



Fitness Boot Camp

Mondays 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Hu d

Zumba Fitness

Wednesdays 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Thursdays 8am - 4pm





Av e

Follow: @hudsonyardshellskitchen




k. kaya

W 33rd St



or PA ew Y

Tues/Wed 11am - 7pm







W 34th St Farmers Market

10 t




Huds on


e r P ar k














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W56th St - 9th Ave A more recent discovery, my favorite part about this sushi bar is the 3pm-7pm happy hour. The menu is small but you can continually order until your belly is full. The staff are attentive, the atmosphere is relaxed, and, depending on where you’re sitting, it can feel like you’re basically outdoors. It is the perfect place to go between shows when you need to eat, but not feel stuffed. I recommend it to anyone craving a casual, relaxed atmosphere and a good roll or two. Or seven.


Mont Blanc

W52nd St - 8th/9th Ave This charming, quiet, family-owned Swiss restaurant has become my Cheers bar, as every time I walk in, I’m greeted with a hug from Maria. And the bartender Luis doesn’t even ask what I want – he just knows. They have tasty fruit-infused martinis (Luis knows the watermelon is my favorite) and a modest but rich menu of delicious food. They don’t play music, which I love, because it inspires conversation,

and you always leave feeling a bit more connected to humanity.


Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant


Flaming Saddles

9th Ave - 50th/51st St We all love a good margarita and Mexican food. HK also has an awesome kale salad (with shrimp) that I die for, and the quesadillas never fail. My favorite part is the large bar window that is opened when the weather is nice. If you sit there, it’s inevitable that you will run into friends stomping down 9th Ave headed to a bar, a show, or the gym. Regardless, a good time will be had. 9th Ave - 52nd/53rd St My favorite thing about this bar is that, while it is country western themed, it doesn’t feel like a scene; any and all are welcomed. The bartenders are all wonderfully sweet and handsome, and they intermittently dance on the bar. On busy nights, they indulge your presence by pouring tequila shots down your throat, á la Coyote Ugly, should you be within the bartender’s reach. It is a cash


only bar, but perhaps that’s a good thing; otherwise, you might get lost in your fun and your bank account might not appreciate it!


Hudson Hotel Library Bar

W58th St - 8th/9th Ave This bar has a wonderfully relaxed, sophisticated, man-cave vibe that Belle would appreciate, should the Beast partake in a cheeky libation every now and then. Located inside the Hudson Hotel, it is also connected to a wonderful outdoor rooftop patio, and yet another bar with a tasteful, candlelit, night time, picnicky sort of atmosphere that has a kitchen for your late-night snacking. It can be expensive and louder on the weekends, but this is New York City. Where isn’t it like that?

Taurean Everett is currently in the ensemble for The Cher Show. His theater credits include Miss Saigon and Mamma Mia! on Broadway, and the national tour of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Instagram: @taureanje

Series A: May 12 - June 1 Series B: May 28 - June 24 Series C: June 9 - June 29

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A vegan runner’s

Playlist Mark Fisher Fitness

W39th St - 9th/10th Ave I usually start my day as an amazing unicorn ninja at this gym. It’s the best way to start any day, and I always leave there feeling way better than when I walked in.

HK Barbers

9th Ave - 46th St/47th St Next up, it’s time for a haircut. I happened upon HK Barber one day and went in on a whim. I’m now a happy and returning customer. Shalom there is the best: quick, friendly, and efficient.

The Coffee Pot

W51st St - 9th/10th Ave Iced coffee is essential for any day. I stop up at my fave little cafe for the best cold brew in the neighborhood.

PS Kitchen

W48th St - 7th/8th Ave My favorite brunch/lunch/dinner spot is this place – they do amazing vegan food and donate 100% of their profits to sustainable charitable work locally and overseas.

Clinton Cove Park

12th Ave - 56th St When I need to find a little respite and peace from the city, I make my way here, just off the West Side Highway. It’s tucked away from the piers and the touristy areas and is a lovely little alcove.



Juice - Lizzo Heart to Break - Kim Petras Fire - Sara Bareilles First Burn - Arianna Afasr, Julia Harriman, Lexi Lawson, Rachelle Ann Go, and Shoba Narayan Cranes In the Sky - Solange

Jeremy Ritz is a 20-year NYC resident. He’s a vegan runner and, when he’s not exploring the city and finding new hidden spots, he’s singing as part of the Empire City Men’s Chorus.





When we strip back the facade, switch off our Instagram armor, and connect with each other as humans, we find we have more in common than we realized DIGITAL EDITION

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n a world that feels more connected that ever, are we humans craving something much deeper – a closer connection both to ourselves and others? Something that feels more authentic than a retweet; more personal than a poke? While travel would seem the ideal opportunity to switch off from social media and constant email interruptions, and just get real, we still seem to spend a vast amount of time experiencing a new destination through the lens of an iPhone, and finding vacation validation through real time Instagram likes. That was the starting point for Kimpton hotels’ Stay Human project. The hope was, that with a few props and some helpful hints, each guest might connect with those who had come before and would come after; complete

‘We experience a new destination through the lens of an iphone, and find vacation validation through Instagram likes.’

Previous page: The room features a dramatic mural, painted by graffiti artist Trat. Above: A typewriter and a polaroid camera for guests to record their stories in analog form.

strangers telling their stories through the commonality of a shared space. What’s your mystery vice?

Confess something … What’s your mood? What was a defining moment in your life? Your biggest fear? A word of advice? The result, which began in LA last year, has grown to include 20 hotels across the US and Canada, including Ink 48 in Hell’s Kitchen – where room 1403, launched this summer, enjoys a spectacular skyline view of New York City, a dramatic mural (painted by graffiti artist Trat), and a few accessories to help get the conversation started. A guest book. A polaroid camera. An iPad for videos. A typewriter. What stories will be left for future guests? Only time will tell …


Guests were asked to select from a series of questions to answer on camera, and the results were surprisingly intimate. One guest said: “I wish every one of you to know that somewhere deep down inside, something about you is that good. Something about you is that transcendent, that interesting … just be yourself. Just enjoy the life you’ve got. Love every scrap of it with every bit of intensity and emotion and intention that you’ve got, and be as human as possible. Be as real as possible. Be as good of a human being as you possibly can.”





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LIVING CONFESSIONS “I didn’t know she was married.” “I have a secret stash of candy I don’t share with my husband.” “I have been selfish in ways I didn’t think I was capable of … I will do better!” “I talk too much sh*t about my friends, but I am trying to stop.”


The original Stay Human guest book gems included one guest who shared a travel memory from his youth: his father used to give him a $5 bill whenever they traveled together, so he taped $5 to the book, imploring another guest to take the money and give it to their child to create their own travel memories. Someone took the money and responded with their gratitude on the same page. Guests also left their own questions for other guests to answer: “What’s your favorite late-night snack?” “Do you collect anything?” “If you could quit your job right


Above: Say hello to a new kind of visitors’ book.

now and do something new, what would it be?” And line by line, five different guests wrote the following poem together: “Into the infinite future, with bold optimism and intent. Everyone with their hopes and dreams, hoping they won’t be broken or bent. Keep going and don’t be spent, your struggles and doubles will come to an end. Light shines brightest in the morning, darkness may come, but it will always fade until only the light remains. Remember to love, remember to be loved.”

“I am really mean sometimes, though I try to be kind.” “I love my dog more than humans.” “I have a crush on [name removed] at my job.” “I think my sense of humor is superior to 99% of people I know.” “I have to fake empathy.” “I’m a social climber.”

Started by Kimpton’s director

Just Thought You Should Know,

South of the River, Tom Misch

Saturdays, Twin Shadow, HAIM

Speed Queen, Thunderpussy

of music, Lauren Bucherie,

Betty Who

Not for Sale, Sudan Archives

Synergy, Tash Sultana

A Little Bit Trouble, Brothers

and added to by guests, a

You Don’t Know, Leon Bridges

Short Court Style, Natalie

Gold Rush, Death Cab for


“community playlist” of more

TV in the Morning, DNCE



Secret of Life, Lord Huron

than 100 tracks was created,

Told You So, Miguel

Only Have You, Jackie Venson

Kids These Days, Shakey

High Horse, Kacey Musgraves

touching on themes of love, loss,

Dance to This, Troye Sivan,

Canyons, Barrie


Summertime Magic, Childish

empowerment, and equality.

Ariana Grande

jaguars in the air, Lykke Li

River, Bishop Briggs


June 21, July 19, August 16 DIGITAL EDITION


To think, the first time Matisse met Picasso, they had little in common.

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Does New York get any more NEW YORK than Hell’s Kitchen? This new arrival from Chelsea doesn’t think so

Patrick Shae

Profession I’m a manager at an internet holding company. Moving from West Chelsea. To W47th St - 9th/10th Ave Why? I was living in a big, cookie cutter apartment building along the High Line, which I shared with my partner at the time. After we went our separate ways, I realized the apartment was just too big for me, and the area was growing way too fast. When I moved there, it still felt a bit untouched and off-the-beaten-path but, with Hudson Yards opening and the mass of new high rises going up seemingly every day, it started to feel too artificial; it lost its authenticity. The warehouses and studios had all been demolished for buildings I was guilty of living in. Budget I really wasn’t looking to spend more than $3k a month. The broker experience Thankfully, the same real estate company (Citi Habitats) represents my entire building, and they

Above: Patrick has learned a lot about real estate in his 12 years in the city – and that is mainly to BE PREPARED!

made the whole experience seamless and so easy. I couldn’t recommend (and appreciate) them enough. On the tick list Closet space! My vice is clothes and shoes. Other than that, I really wanted a true one-bedroom, and a workable kitchen. What I learned along the way I’ve lived in New York for 12 years, and have been through too many apartments in those years, so I’ve learned to be prepared – always. The day I found my new apartment, I was walking into another broker’s office to sign a different lease I’d already been approved for, when the broker called and told me not to come. Apparently, another tenant had their eye on the apartment, and since they already lived there, they were able to circumvent my application and swooped it out of my grasp. I was crushed – standing on the streets of SoHo, with $500 in cash in my pocket and a shopping cart online of furniture I had curated the night before. Then I realized I had set up a viewing for a different apartment days before. I


called the realtor and he was still on board for meeting me in 20 minutes. I jumped on a Citi Bike, walked into what is now my new apartment, and my jaw dropped. Usually in NYC the pictures online are wide angle and never, ever, look like the apartment in real life. I thought it was some trick. It was actually better than the pictures. Within 24 hours, the lease was signed. What sealed the deal My deck. I’ve always preferred to have my rent go to year-round livable space than some balcony I’d never use. But my priorities have changed, and I was longing for more of a life/nature balance. The deck overlooks a community garden so it’s a double nature whammy. It’s a true anomaly for Manhattan, let alone Hell’s Kitchen. I’m so in love. My new favorite thing about living in Hell’s Kitchen It’s the feeling of a real neighborhood. When I went to look at my apartment, I was walking up the block and there were people – young and old and everywhere in between – sitting on their stoops, like in the movies. I watched my neighbors greet each other by name (I couldn’t tell you the first names of any of my neighbors in my giant West Chelsea buildings). I missed the grit of Hell’s Kitchen. Sure, my old Chelsea apartment had an elevator and in-unit washer and dryer, views of the Empire State Building, and in any other city, it would be a nobrainer. But I want to know I live in New York when I am home. New Yorkers’ creature comforts are piping hot radiators, knowing your upstairs neighbor is awake because you can hear every step they take, the timeless crown moldings and creaky wooden floors. That is the New York I know and fell in love with.

VITAL STATS W47th St - 9th/10th Ave # of floors Five # of units Seven When built 1920 Amenities None, but a very friendly super!


LIVING Les Girls

Use this cheeky little porcelain tray, for trinkets, loose change, condoms, or anything else you want to keep safe and sound $89.95, delphiniumhome.com

Quilty as charged

Let’s give it up for Zara’s line of well-priced, stylish home decor. We’re loving this bright yellow embroidered quilt that is on sale with $100 off. $199, zarahome.com

The future is orange

Say goodbye to beige. This Christopher Knight-designed accent chair with super-soft microfiber upholstery makes a powerful statement in any room. $160.49, target.com


PROUD We hunt down the most colorful accessories to bring a rainbow into your room

Love is love

Salad days

Bowls that actually look like lettuce leaves! No one need know you eat your Fruit Loops from them. $19.99 for four, tjmaxx.tjx.com

The message on this over-sized mug is clear – and puts its money where its mouth is: all the proceeds benefit the Human Rights Campaign. $20, domusnewyork.com



LIVING See the light

Sean Augustine’s rainbow neon lamp is handmade in Brooklyn and creates prisms of colored light through each glass panel. Sure, it’s expensive. But – come on – it’s a work of art! $1,700, abchome.com

Camp it up

Carrots and roses provide just the right amount of kitsch for your sofa. $120, wolfandbadger.com

Sink in

Upholstered in soft, navy velvet, the curves of this Willa Arlo-designed sofa make it comfy as well as super-sexy. $799.99, wayfair.com

Let the sunshine in

There’s nothing mellow about this yellow: bright, bold, with a burst of sunshine. The collection comes in three sizes. From $95, burkedecor.com

I should Coco!

Cate Brown creates cushions from exquisite vintage designer fabrics. This hot pink baby was originally a boucle wool Chanel jacket, and comes complete with the original weight chain, buttons, jacket pocket, and CC silk lining. $545, cate-brown.com


This happy welcome mat says it all. $32, burkelman.com




#W42ST Hashtag your Instagram pics and they could star in the mag!

Summer? Is that you? It's been so long, we'd almost forgotten what you look like. And those wet May days? For a while there, it looked like you wouldn't be coming at all. But here you are ... teasing us with your sunshine and blessing us with your blooms. All is forgiven. Remember, anyone can be featured on these pages. Just tag your images #W42ST and you could be the one whose photograph ends up in the next issue.








SAFE SPACE LOOKS LIKE Women teaching women turns out to be an uplifting experience, discovers Sophia Strawser 60




’m a hopeless romantic. That said, I’ve been trying to fall for myself recently. And self-love this month looked like a visit to Uplift Studios. Women are giving men a run for their money when it comes to lifting weights. “Girls who lift” is trending, as it should be, but how does one join said hashtag with confidence? Uplift Studio is a female-only gym offering lifting classes aimed at raising the heart rate and getting the muscles pumped. It also offers personal training which, of course, is done by women. Women teaching women creates not only a safe space but a supportive space. On my walk from the door to the locker room, I heard one conversation about hormones, one about workout leggings, and another about smudged eye makeup. The conversation about hormones may have been me on the phone with my mother but still. I felt like I was in a members-only club and I didn’t want to leave. I wanted cucumber water and gal pals on plush couches. But I also want health so, alas, I took myself out of my fantasy and headed into class. The space is small but mighty – not one of those studios where you are wandering down hallways to find the locker room, get lost, end up missing class, and in defeat eat a Snickers Bar instead. Just me? OK. Let’s talk about judgment. I personally hate it and I’m going to go out on a limb and say you don’t like it either. Especially when you’re working out. No matter where we are on our exercise journey, we should feel proud that we came, we sweated, we conquered. Healthy doesn’t look a certain way, but it does think a certain way, and that’s what I think Uplift has perfectly emphasized. I didn’t worry about how big my arms were when I was in the studio, I cared about returning the

Opposite: So much positivity should be illegal!

“Let’s talk about judgment. I personally hate it and I’m going to go out on a limb and say you don’t like it either.”


huge smiles on the staff’s faces. I didn’t overthink what I ate that day, I worried about reading the motivational quotes posted around the studio about loving yourself and others. Can I have the name of your interior designer, please? I started with an Express class which, like all except their Sculpt X class, is 45 minutes long. Which I loved. It was jampacked with sets of lifting, bursts of cardio like jacks and mountain climbers, and, of course, a sensible abs section. My least favorite. Anyone else feel like a beached whale during abs? Like a somewhat cute beached whale (positive self-talk, Soph) with promise and hope, but a beached whale none the less. My instructor was a bundle of joy and demonstrated each move before the class switched to it. I’m always looking to the future at the gym, so I like sections explained at the beginning, moves shown before we switch to them so we don’t lose time, and for my hair to stay in place. In this class I got two out of my three requests (fixes hair). The second class I tried was Sculpt. Again, 45 minutes. And, ladies, can we talk about how obsessed I am with this? Express was a bit too fast for me (the clue’s in the name) and I was often worried about my form. But in Sculpt, everything was broken down in a way that made me feel like I was getting a personal training session. I loved it almost as much as I love Polar sparkling water. And, just to be clear, if I stopped buying sparkling water I’d be able to afford to live in a luxury building. So that’s where I’m at with my love of Uplift’s Sculpt classes. As this hopeless romantic left the building, I felt the self-love I’d been searching for. I was proud of how I’d pushed myself to go harder, lift heavier, and embraced the judgment-free space. Let’s uplift each other. Until then @SophieStrawser.

THE SMALL PRINT Single classes: From $20 Five pack: From $99 Ten-pack: $199 upliftstudios.com



Confessions of a


After years navigating the Manhattan dating pool, Mary Geneva has a new rule

ith all these years in the dating trenches under my belt, I’ve decided it’s time for a new rule: I will no longer sleep with anyone on the first, second, or even the “magical” third date. And, so far, I’ve managed to stick to this rule … more or less. Why? Because sweating up the sheets with someone so early in the game never goes anywhere (at least in my world). Of course, holding out until the sixth date


never seems to go anywhere either, but for some reason it just feels better this way. For me. No judgment on anyone else’s choices. Hell, post-divorce I went through a few years of trying to make up for my lost early-20s and being in an almost sexless marriage with the primal urge to hook up with just about any guy who would buy me a drink. And it was fun for a while … But when you’re attracted to a new guy (or girl), they’re attracted to you, but you’re not ready for some mutually consensual adult entertainment, you have to do something to release the tension. I’ve solved this sticky problem by relegating my carnal activities to varying degrees of lip locking. I’m a lip slut. Don’t bother to check Webster’s – it isn’t in there … yet. So allow me to define it here: Lip slut, English, USA, noun. Definition: Someone who just wants to make out and nothing else. If you’re currently in the midst of a serial dating binge, I highly recommend it. Once you try it,

you’ll be surprised at the erotic satisfaction that can be derived through the experience. Although, admittedly, my dates haven’t always mirrored my enthusiasm. But you know what? That’s just tough. There’s a new sheriff in town and it’s my turn to call the shots. I’m not the only person in NYC to enjoy copious amounts of lip action. Rose said: “There was something satisfying about respecting myself. I didn’t need to sleep with a guy. I was pleasantly surprised at how a kiss could make me smile and feel.” My neighbor, George, had this to say: “Sometimes it’s nice to get a quick kiss and then see what happens later … or just have a good story.” Ryan, on the other hand, disagrees on restricting the athletic activity to tonsil hockey. “I don’t have that much self control,” he said. And Janet, although now married, reminisced fondly about her lip slut days: “I like kissing and didn’t always feel like I wanted the guy to be a notch on my bed.” For me, naturally, if a viable candidate pops up on the horizon, I’m not averse to lifting the “above the neck” restriction, but in the meantime, I’ve been told I’m a very good kisser.

“Once you try it, you’ll be surprised at the erotic satisfaction that can be derived through the experience.”




Mary Geneva is a sales professional by day and serial dater by night. In her book Nicknames, she tiptoes into the dating pool accumulating late-night, drunken scraps of paper and text messages outlining unbelievable – yet totally true – events. Undaunted, she lives, works, and plays in New York City, and calls Hell’s Kitchen home, along with her rescued pets, pup Valentino and kitty Diva. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @marygeneva nyc, and at thatssomary. com. You can buy Nicknames at nicknamesnyc. com. And you can share your most bizarre dating story with Mary. Email mary genevanyc@ gmail.com.


Love and



Claudia Chung is learning that you can still love yourself and recognize the need to grow

n my teens, I worshipped Drew Barrymore. To me, she was not too thin – perfectly flawed in an artsy, charming way, and adorably nuts. I wanted me to be all of those things – except Korean. So I cut my hair and got a perm (which turned out looking more like Sophia in Golden Girls). I watched Mad Love every day after school and studied her sexy grunge wardrobe of tank tops and plaid shirts. To complete my transformation, I took it upon myself to start mimicking her side-mouth way of talking. It’s best described as a cross between a pucker and a smirk, and you contort your face so you can talk while maintaining the puck. Drew can pull it off. I could not. But I did it anyway. All in all, I was very proud of my metamorphosis from homely high schooler to wannabe teen icon. And I felt pretty cute. Then one day I took my mom to the airport. We were sitting in a coffee shop killing time when she said:

“You’re fat. And stop talking like that. You look retarded.” I was crushed. I wanted to die. (But I wanted to kill her first.) The thing is, part of me suspected she was right. I was almost 40 pounds overweight and wearing one of my dad’s old fishing shirts with fish gut stains. I had a curly hair helmet with butterfly barrette clipped on the side. I’d gotten it all wrong. And the very next day, motivated by what felt like humiliation, I changed everything. And it felt better. Now, as I muddle my way through the beginnings of middle age, I’m not so different from that fat teen with a perm, who thinks she looks like Drew Barrymore. I’m still delusional about certain aspects of my life. I don’t think my piggy bank is much of a retirement plan, but I live like it is. And while I say I’m happy alone, I’m really not. I can’t let false internal stories or misguided pride keep me


“I don’t think my piggy bank is much of a retirement plan, but I live like it is.”




Claudia Chung is a writer who moonlights as a school teacher. She is currently working on a book of essays and stories on the trials, tribulations, and the funny in being a young widow.

from looking at my life with clarity and honesty. I believe there are two kinds of pride. One will keep you delusional, arrogant, and stagnant. It will build a wall around your heart and your brain. It will tell you that you’re perfect just the way you are – even when you’ve been acting rotten. It tells you that you don’t need to change. You don’t need to do the work. You don’t need to grow. The second type of pride starts with acceptance. Towards a situation. Towards a person. Or towards yourself. I once read that humility and self-esteem are one and the same, and I believe this to be true. The pride I seek – for myself and others – is joyful, open, and honest. It searches for ways to make things better by speaking up, showing up, and getting enough sleep. It can look at the ugly parts of life with love and kindness, seeing what is salvageable and what can be released. It’s one thing to be proud of where you are in life. I want to be proud of how far I’ve come.



Wagging Portofino Francisca

Human’s name: Patricia. Age: I am 10 years old. Breed: Shihtzu. What makes me bark: Squirrels. Three words that describe me best: Loving, cuddling, licking. Confession: I don’t like other dogs. Instadog: @Fran_shi.htzu


Human’s name: Angela. Age: Seven years old. Breed: Ruby King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. What makes me bark: Strangers and flashing lights/shadows. Three works that describe me best: Lover boy, outdoorsie, foodie. Confession: I like to take my special treats and eat them in a secret hiding place. I also like kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating – but don’t like being in the water.


Orie Humans’ names: Briana, Lillian, and David. Age: Two. Breed: Boston Terrier. What makes me bark: When I hear the front door from the building, and brooms. Three words that describe me best: Lovable, funny, unique. Confession: I like to remove shoe insoles and chew them up. Instadog: @orie_bostonterriernyc



These camera-happy cuties took a time out from the morning stroll for a quick Q&A with W42ST

Hudson Nala Human’s name: Jamie. Age: 13 months. Breed: Catahoula mix. What makes me bark: Not much. Three words that describe me best: Spunky, affectionate, athletic. Confession: I once tore down a small tree and dragged it all over my parents’ apartment. Instadog: @nyc.nala (follow me!)

Human’s name: Daniel. Age: I’m a rescue, so my humans are not entirely sure of my age, but I’m about 10 years old. Breed: Pocket Beagle. What makes me bark: My home phone announces who is calling, and whenever I hear that my grandparents are on the line I bark incessantly. Three words that describe me best: Breakfast, dinner, treat. Confession: I don’t have many teeth, but my snaggle tooth has the irresistible power to solicit treats from everyone. Instadog: I’ve been trying to cut back on screen time, so I’m not on Instagram.


Dog day care


Be featured in Wagging Tales – and get a FREE week of dog day care at AKC Canine Retreat.* Your dog will experience a new level of care tailored to their individual needs and temperament. AKC Canine Retreat welcomes dogs of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes, and offers a full range of services including day care, overnight care, grooming, training, walking, and jogging. Our professional staff are trained in the most up-to-date methods recognized by the American Kennel Club, and each location features a range of play and rest spaces. Come visit our locations at W72nd St, W42nd St, SKY, Chelsea, and Tribeca – we’ve got the West Side covered! Email the pictures of your dog to waggingtales@w42st.com with the answers to our questions, and one lucky dog will get a FREE week of care.* Your name: Pet’s name: How old? Breed: What makes your pet bark? Three words that describe them best: Naughty confession: Are you an Instadog? *Dog must pass interview to enter day care



“I see your true colors And that’s why I love you So don’t be afraid to let them show Your true colors … are beautiful Like a rainbow.”


Cyndi Lauper

he Brooklyn-born, Queensraised writer of Kinky Boots cites her sister, Ellen – who is lesbian – as her inspiration and role model. A longtime LGBTQ+ activist, her 2005 song ‘Above the Clouds’ celebrates the memory of Matthew Shepard, who was beaten to death in Wyoming because he was gay. And she devoted her 2005 tour to spreading the message of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.


Moved by the plight of homeless youth – LGBTQ+ young people are 120% more likely to become homeless than their peers – she launched the True Colors Fund (now True Colors United) in 2010. “When we saw this homeless situation, which is – you know the statistics, right? There are up to 1.6 million homeless kids and up to 40 percent are LGBTQ+ – you feel like, well, what the heck’s going on? You realize that you’ve got to do more.


You’ve got to educate people, you’ve got to reach out to the kids.” She established the True Colors Residence in 2011, a 30-bed facility in Harlem, which provides shelter and support for vulnerable young people, and True Colors Bronx opened in 2015. Lauper was Grand Marshal of NYC Pride in 2012, and returns this year to perform at the World Pride opening ceremony on June 26, along with Whoopi Goldberg and Chaka Khan.

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